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Various companies in the book trade and publishing industry with a common origin exist today under the name Benziger .


The beginnings

In the 18th century, the Benziger family began a trade in crosses and religious souvenirs among the numerous pilgrims in Einsiedeln , a place of pilgrimage in central Switzerland . In 1792 Johann Baptist Carl Benziger (1719–1802) received the right to sell devotional objects and books through the Einsiedeln monastery . His son Franz Benziger (1758–1827), head of the monastery print shop, founded an independent print shop in 1798. In 1833 two nephews of Franz Benziger - sons of his brother Josef Carl Benziger - founded the publishing and printing company Gebrüder Carl and Nikolaus Benziger . Karl Benziger was more attached to politics and literature and looked after the publishing house, Nikolaus der Technik and managed the printing works, where he introduced one of the first mechanical printing presses in 1844.

In the first few years Benziger was primarily a picture publisher, whose steel engravings were distributed worldwide from 1856 onwards. Then came theological literature, especially Bible lexica and theological edification writings . The expansion to include fiction literature, especially books for young people, came later.

Expansion in Switzerland and Germany

Catalog of the art institute of Karl and Nikolaus Benziger in Einsiedeln

Benziger Verlag has been publishing mainly theological works, fiction and books for young people since the 19th century . For decades, Benziger was not only one of the leading Catholic publishing houses in German-speaking countries, but also from around 1883 "typographers of the Holy Apostolic See", that is to say, the Pope's printer and from 1888 the largest printing company in Switzerland. At the height of its expansion, in the 1890s, Benziger published books and magazines in 20 languages ​​and had more than 1,000 employees in Switzerland alone, making it one of the largest Swiss companies at the time.

After expansion into the United States (including Ohio, 1837 and New York, 1853), expansion into German-speaking Europe was also pushed forward. Karl and Nikolaus Benziger opened businesses in Cologne (1884) and Strasbourg (1912). A bookshop in Waldshut , Baden , was added as early as 1887. It was intended for further activities in the German Reich. But the First World War brought major setbacks, as the Swiss company was separated from its main sales areas. The Benziger family withdrew from the active publishing business. Later, the emergence of National Socialism made itself felt in the sale of the traditionally denominational Catholic program. Therefore, the Waldshut branch was handed over to its managing director Alois Höner from Lucerne in 1936, who continued the bookstore and also remained the publisher's travel agent. In 1953 the now «St. Marienbuchhandlung »to the Fleck family, which they managed in the second generation until 2019.

Benziger had grown up with the pilgrimage business and lived part of it, among other things with the sale of devotional objects and the large Catholic bookstore directly on the monastery square. When the brothers Martin, Adelrich and Karl Gyr purchased the Panorama Crucifixion of Christ in 1893 as an additional tourist magnet for Einsiedeln, Benziger made the building site available, which explains the location a little away from the monastery in what was then the printing works quarter.

Further development and decline

Benziger published works by well-known authors such as Hugo Ball , Paul Claudel , Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Josef Vital Kopp under Gustav Keckeis . In the theology section, the works of Hans Küng and Karl Rahner deserve special mention. From 1972 Benziger published the ecumenically oriented religious education journal RL together with the Protestant theological publishing house in Zurich . Magazine for religion and life studies .

Benziger Zurich / Einsiedeln was in danger of bankruptcy in the 1980s . In 1984 Dieter Schaub from the German Media Union ( Rheinpfalz Verlag ) invested 40 million Swiss francs in various projects in Switzerland, including Benziger. As a result of the embezzlement by the intermediary trustee, a financial scandal broke out and Benziger's rescue failed. In 1986 the publishing house was sold to the Rheinpfalz Group in Ludwigshafen, and the children's book division went to the Arena publishing house in Würzburg.

After a gradual decline, Benziger-Verlag was taken over by Patmos publishing house in 1994 . Top-selling titles from the Benziger range strengthened the theology and gift book areas at Patmos. Until the end of 1995 the publishing house was located in Solothurn , where it was temporarily looked after by Guido Elber together with Walter Verlag ; In 1996 he moved back to Zurich. In 2003, publishing activities under the Benziger name were discontinued and the program was fully integrated into that of Patmos.

Publishing delivery

In 1985 Benziger outsourced his publishing distribution and founded the Bücherdienst AG in Einsiedeln with Diogenes Verlag , which over time was able to take over the distribution for 30 publishers and, as the fourth largest distribution distribution in German-speaking Switzerland, created additional jobs in rural Einsiedeln. Twenty years later, the company merged with the second largest intermediate book retailing company in Switzerland, the Zugerische Verlagsausgabe Balmer (90 publishers), to form Balmer Bücherdienst AG .

Publishing house printing

In 1986 the publishing house's printing works were separated from Benziger-Verlag and, like the latter, became an independent stock corporation. The company was initially continued; without the publisher, however, it could no longer make a living and was discontinued in 1995. Today the area is built over with apartments and commercial properties; the print shop has been in liquidation since 2006.

Publishing bookstore

The bookstore, founded in 1802 directly on Klosterplatz, still operates under its old name and is still known far beyond the region for its wide range of fiction and religious literature. In 1987 the business was taken over by the bookseller Joe Fuchs and has not belonged to the publisher since then.

Development overseas

Nicholas Benziger's home in New York

In the 19th century, many German and Polish Catholics emigrated to the United States of America. Benziger was the largest and most renowned printing and publishing house in Switzerland at the time. After the lack of good books and devotional objects in the New World became known, the Benziger family founded a bookstore in Cincinnati / Ohio in 1837 (through Louis Meyer) and in 1853 a branch in New York (through JN Adelrich Benziger), later more in St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco. With book trade covered wagons that were traveling along the Ohio River , they brought literature, prayer books and devotional objects to the rural areas. From 1897 the publishing house was completely independent of the Swiss parent company.

From these beginnings one of the leading Catholic publishers in America developed before it was taken over by Crowell Collier Macmillan (CCM) in 1968. Three years later, three CCM publishers, Benziger (Einsiedeln, 1792), Bruce (Milwaukee, 1890) and Glencoe (Beverly Hills, 1966) were merged. Today the company belongs to Macmillan / McGraw-Hill and under the name Benziger there are English and Spanish-language books on Catholic catechesis and religious instruction.

As part of a corporate restructuring, Macmillan / McGraw-Hill sold the Benziger product line to the CFM Religion Publishing Group in July 2007 , a holding that unites a Protestant (Standard Publishing) and a Catholic publisher (RCL Benziger) under one roof. The merger of RCL and Benziger was reinforced in September 2007 with the incorporation of the Silver Burdett Ginn Religion program , which was acquired by Pearson .


A secondary pillar of the publishing house was the publishing of school books for the canton of Schwyz and a few other Catholic cantons in original Switzerland . Some of these books were illustrated by the well-known wood cutter Robert Wyss . In the 1970s, Benziger and the Sauerländer-Verlag, founded in Aarau in 1807, founded a joint teaching material publisher for the cantons of the Goldau Conference : SABE ( SA uerländer- BE nziger). This now belongs entirely to the Sauerländer Verlag, which in turn has been absorbed into the Cornelsen Verlag group.

The purpose of the Einsiedeln Cultural Heritage Foundation is to take over, safely preserve and make accessible the cultural assets of the Einsiedeln district, in particular the holdings of the Benziger archive.


The following authors published among many others at Benziger in Einsiedeln. The selection is not representative, but is based primarily on those represented in this encyclopedia. The old doctors of the church whose works have been published here are also not listed.


  • Heinz Nauer: Benziger. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 19th December 2019 . (revised version)
  • Heinz Nauer: Benziger Verlag. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 19th December 2019 .
  • KJ Benziger: History of the Benziger family from Einsiedeln. Benziger, Einsiedeln 1923.
  • BL-S .: Contributions to the history of the Benziger von Einsiedeln and the first printing press in the village. In: The old Einsiedeln. No. 26/1969 to 32/1970, insert in the Einsiedler Anzeiger .
  • Heinz Nauer: pious industry. Benziger Verlag Einsiedeln 1750-1970. Hier und Jetzt Verlag, Baden AG 2017, ISBN 978-3-03919-433-9 .
  • Werner Öchslin , Anja Buschow Öchslin: The art monuments of Switzerland. New edition III.I / II: monastery, village and district of Einsiedeln. Part 2: Einsiedeln village and district. Edited by the Society for Swiss Art History. GSK, Bern 2003.
  • JP Zwicky von Gauen: Ancestors and descendants of Dr. Ralph Benziger and his wife Maria Donata Benziger, b. Müller. Genealogical Institute Zwicky, Zurich 1975.

Web links

Commons : Benziger Brothers  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Identification in the Swiss National Archives
  2. Gabriel Meier: St. Anthony of Padua. His life, his miracles and his worship. 2nd Edition. Printing and publishing by Gebr. Karl & Nikolaus Benziger, typographers of the Holy Apostolic See, Einsiedeln / New York / Cincinnati / St. Louis 1883.
  3. Martina Läubli: The book empire in Einsiedeln. in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, November 3, 2017 also online at .
  4. ^ Heinz Nauer: "Pious industry": The publishing house Benziger in Einsiedeln 1760-1960. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  5. Expansion Germany
  6. The Waldshuter St. Marienbuchhandlung closes after 132 years of-nail-salons-are-already-standing-in-line; art372623,10129294
  7. ^ German National Library.
  8. Schaub scandal ( Memento from February 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  9. Book delivery
  10. Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce.
  11. Benziger bookstore
  12. Macmillan / McGraw-Hill archive link ( Memento from June 23, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  13. Archived copy ( Memento of October 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  14. CFM Religion Publishing Group
  15. Archive link ( Memento from December 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  16. formerly Benziger Archive Foundation for Cultural Heritage Einsiedeln